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Author Topic: Using Back-Up Lights For Other Purposes  (Read 1130 times)
ron.dittmer
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« on: April 03, 2011, 10:56:19 pm »

I am thinking of installing a weather/water proof switch outside to manually turn on my PC backup lights.  The switch would be mounted upside-down, next to the light that illuminates the license plate.  This way I have easy access to white light when hooking and unhooking my tow vehicle after dark, and also for quick temporary convenience lighting behind the motor home when putting camp site things away after dark.

Currently when dealing with the tow after dark, the only real convenient white light is the tow vehicle headlights, but they blind me given they are high, inches from my head, and basically shinning in the wrong direction.  Holding a flashlight under my arm or a small one in my mouth while working the hardware just is not practical.  I tried a strap-on-head LED light once, but it is not ideal.  The RV backup lights are low enough from my face, the right brightness, and perfectly positioned to light up the work area properly.  A switch next to the license plate light seems the perfect location.

I am currently investigating a good well sealed switch, and also will be discussing with Kermit if there are any concerns electrically.  The modification should theoretically take under one hour, maybe even less than 1/2 hour.  Constant 12V power is right there at the tow connector.  I was under the rear of my PC today and everything is very easy to access from behind the bumper.

ADDING:  I found the ideal switch HERE but with shipping, it is $37.50

Looking at my PC's tow bar folded up in the picture, you see the backup lights relative to the tow bar.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 09:43:00 am by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 01:43:25 pm »

On the surface that sounds like a great idea.  I would caution that some cars and I would guess truck chassis too, that the electrical circuit grounds are controlled by the computer.  Not impossible to work around as I found on my toad, but still a factor to modifying a factory design.
Still a great idea, good luck with the implementation.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 10:20:36 pm »

In between dances in "Dancing With The Stars" tonight (poor Max with Kirsty, I hope Max can still dance), I went through my service manual electrical diagram.  I think it is safest to treat the rear backup lights the same as is required for wiring a tow vehicle tail lights, using one of these blocking diodes to eliminate back voltage.  Original power wire goes to one side of the pair, the constant-on trailer wire goes to the other.  The single connection opposite end goes to the pair of backup lights.

« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 10:43:23 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 11:22:21 pm »

Yep, you got it, stopped my problem with feedback.  The switches you spoke of are on eBay - a lot less.
Those diode blocks are more reasonable on eBay too. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 07:41:27 am »

I don't understand why you don't just buy a cheap set of driving lights or a utility light and mount them/it under the rear of the PC. You would have all the parts and switches you need. Just wire them to a hot lead off the house battery. You could even tap into the wiring near the santi-con. If you wanted to get fancy, you could wire it through a light on the dash so you don't forget to turn them off while driving. Kind of an extreme. No special wiring blocks needed.
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 01:37:52 pm »

Ron:

Nice idea.  I turn on the fog lights on the Jeep to disconnect.  Not as bright and lower than the headlights.  They also make these lights that plug into your 7 wire electric connections. There are all kinds. Here is one: www.whitenight.com.  Check the web there are lots of styles and kinds and very easy and economical. Just my thoughts.

David
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2011, 11:05:03 pm »

Neat lights!
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2011, 02:53:41 pm »

Okay All,

I found the perfect switch for the application on ebay HERE.  As someone mentioned, I can safely wire it up without concern of back voltage if accedentally left on when going into reverse.  After further review of my service manual wiring diagram, I agree.

Here is the switch.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 02:55:41 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2011, 05:10:56 pm »

Ron,
    If you go to a shop that handles boat accessories, you can get a rubber boot that goes over the switch shaft.  It actually screws on the threaded part making the switch totally waterproof.  I use them on switches I use on my motorcycle that are exposed to the elements.
      Bob
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2011, 12:24:37 am »

The supplier of the switch claims I don't need that boot.  He says there is an "O" ring in the switch to prevent water from getting inside there at the handle.  I might buy one anyway.
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2011, 12:30:06 am »

I got the project done today, the installation and wiring was fairly simple.  I think it is going to be a valuable asset to have.  The water proof switch is mounted inconspicuously next to the license plate light.  It can turn on the backup lights only under one of two conditions.
1) engine running
2) ignition key turned all the way to the left to the "Accessory" position.

The backup lights illuminate the tow apparatus work area perfectly and from the right direction, much better than working with a flashlight, and also better than my tow vehicle headlights which point in the wrong direction, and are too bright & right in my face.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 09:59:10 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 01:07:06 pm »

I knew you'd figure it out Ron. Looks great and I'm sure it will be very beneficial.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2011, 12:36:43 pm »

One minor disappointment...... I thought I could turn on the backup lights without a key in the ignition but that is NOT the case.  I got power from the hitch connector for convenient fuse protected 12V.  Unfortunately none of the hitch wires offer power all the time, so I settled for ignition controlled power.
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2011, 05:59:39 pm »

One minor disappointment...... I thought I could turn on the backup lights without a key in the ignition but that is NOT the case.  I got power from the hitch connector for convenient fuse protected 12V.  Unfortunately none of the hitch wires offer power all the time, so I settled for ignition controlled power.

Do you have a charge wire for your toad?  Mine is hot all the time, and is also where I got into trouble with feedback to the PC, with the PC turned off. 
A low forward voltage drop diode solved that minor problem.  Like your idea and probably would wire like you have since that would preclude the campground monsters and children from turning it on and running the PC battery down.

L. G.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2011, 07:06:58 pm »

I did a voltage check on my hitch connector and found all wires dead without ignition.  I wired to the orange wire in there which came active with the ignition switch on.  It was quite easy utilizing the same screw terminal in the hitch connector.  To get there, I fished my wire through the same black slinky wire jacket and taped wire bundlings.

I easily pushed the passenger side backup light in toward the RV, then pulled the wires out through that hole, making it very easy on my back to solder and shrink-tube a good splice in place of the crimp connection.  Unlike the driver side, the passenger light had just one hot lead to splice to.

I also utilized the in-place wire hoops in the area to route the wires safely between my switch and lights.  The installation looks factory-like....maybe better because of the solder joint & shrink tubing insulation.
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Stored At Home In Our Heated Garage (Well-Lit & Warm Comfort In Winter)
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